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Analyst: 4G smartphone market to quadruple in Malaysia

Posted: 03 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:4G? smartphone? LTE? tablets?

According to the latest forecast from IDC, 4G-capable smartphone shipments are seen to climb by more than 400 per cent this year. The market research firm expects competition in the 4G market to increase and demand for LTE-enabled smartphones to spike towards 2H13, when LTE networks from major mobile operators become active.

Ryan Lai, associate market analyst for mobile phone and tablet research at IDC Asia/Pacific said, "Rapid deployment of LTE networks in other markets meant that vendors such as Nokia and Apple chose to include 4G connectivity as a standard feature for their flagship handsets. This resulted in Malaysian consumers having access to LTE-enabled handsetswhich represented five per cent of total smartphone shipments in 2012even though LTE data services were unavailable."

With Celcom and DiGi expected to launch 4G data services later this year and LTE connectivity increasingly becoming a hygiene factor among premium smartphones, IDC forecasts that shipments of LTE-enabled handsets will account for 21 per cent of total smartphone volume. Ryan added: "In recent months, BlackBerry, HTC and Sony have unveiled flagship handsets that come standard with LTE, while a LTE variant of Samsung's Galaxy S IV is set to hit Malaysian shores sometime this year, suggesting a significant surge in LTE-enabled handsets for 2013."

Adoption of LTE services on mobile phones has been negligible since its launch. One of its main challenges is Malaysia's 2,600Mhz LTE spectrum that is not compatible with Apple's iPhone 5. "Among the 4G-enabled handsets shipped to Malaysia in 2012, more than 80 per cent were iPhone 5s. Maxis did not charge a premium for 4G services over 3G so if the iPhone 5 were to be compatible with Malaysia's LTE spectrum, 4G adoption would be significantly higher," noted Ryan.

"LTE in Malaysia is in its infancy. At the beginning of the year, device selection was limited, coverage areas were sparse and Maxis wasn't aggressively marketing the service. Come 2H13, things are expected to pick up as more operators and devices will enter the picture and a LTE marketing blitzkrieg is expected as operators look to recuperate capital expenditure spent in building their 4G networks."

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